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Australian Muscle Car Magazine

Last hurrah for Ford’s 351

December 19th, 2012 by Luke | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

AMC #65 salutes the Ford XE Fairmont ESP, the car that closed the door on Ford Australia’s Cleveland V8 era, with an in-depth look at this often misunderstood muscle car. And doesn’t the ESP on the January/February edition’s cover look magnificent in the tan-come-orange hue of ‘Chestnut’.

Sadly, the XE ESP 5.8 was only produced for eight months in 1982. For many years traditionalists who grew up on a smorgasbord of high output, homologated race-ready GT Falcons remembered ESPs as nothing more than a cynical marketing exercise.

Of course, the flip side to its short lifespan is exclusivity and increasing mystique as time marched on.

Those who love the ‘Option 54’ Fords affectionately refer to these rare cars simply as ESPs.

Three decades have passed and their appeal has indeed grown, perhaps because they can be seen today as a forerunner to the luxurious and sophisticated muscle offered under the FPV banner. In short, the ESP was ahead of its time.

With this edition of AMC hitting the newsstands 30 years since the ‘last of the last’ Cleveland V8s hit the showrooms, we lift the lid on some of the ESP’s secrets.

Beyond the boxy Ford, edition #65 also tells the story of a ‘sleeper’ A9X Torana racecar. It’s a car that was re-united with its original owner/driver at the 2012 Muscle Car Masters, completing a 25-year quest by its owner to find out its racing roots.

Meanwhile, V8 Sleuth Aaron Noonan goes back 20 years to Amaroo Park to investigate what became of the 5-litre V8 Supercar era’s earliest cars.

In news, Paul Gover reports in from Vegas on the Commodore-based NASCAR and also Ford’s latest plans for FPV, resto spares and Oz Mustangs. We also sneak a peek at Crenno’s HSV collectibles and a SEMA surprise.

Beyond all that, we look back at Bathurst 1969 via a stack of previously unseen photos and join the Aussie Muscle Car Run.

In terms of profiles, we talk to a racing stalwart, Lawrie Nelson, who is still making racing history after 43 years. And we meet drag racing’s Marcos Ambrose – Wally Clark, the Sydneysider who’s been beating the ‘seppos’ on their home turf since the late ’60s.

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